HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) — Reach of Washington County has created an initiative that aims to not only decrease homelessness in the city of Hagerstown but also develop career skills within individuals.
We’re helping individuals who are homeless develop soft skills and things as pride and confidence,” said Dana Jenkins, executive director of the nonprofit, “to help them move towards different pieces of independence so that they can have a different outcome in their life.”
The Bridge to Change Initiative is a partnership between Reach of Washington County and Hagerstown, in which the city employs homeless men and women to clean up trash.
“We have a clean team that actually cleans the shelter,” said Dana. “It’s made up of residents and they have a special privilege of being able to come in early.”
Jenkins says that City Councilwoman Shelley McIntire helped propel this program forward.
“Between the clean team that they have on the inside and the things I’ve been hearing on the council on the outside with the trash,” said McIntire. “I did what everybody does and looked for a really good idea.”
McIntire and Jenkins say they got the idea from a video on Facebook from the city of Forth Worth.
“They had these work programs where they paid the homeless to clean up, and I brought it to Reach,” said McIntire.
“And within two weeks, we had a meeting with the city and really the rest is history,” said Jenkins.
As of October 7, the program has had nine participants. They have covered 115 miles of the city and removed 14,520 gallons of trash.